Skip to main content
3:00 pm
nonfiction authors and books on c-span2's booktv. this weekend with the presidential election just days away booktv is highlighting political programming for the last couple weeks. first block of political programming begins tonight at 7:00 eastern with an colder, charles kessler and greg pallast and politics with ralph nader, gary johnson, jeff figures, mickey edwards and sunday at the theme continues at 3:00 eastern with edward klein, michael grunwald and rose mary gibson. visit for complete schedule of television programming. booktv is on facebook. like us to interact with booktv guest and viewers. watch videos and get up-to-date information and events. ..ear me all right?
3:01 pm
some buddies waving their hands in the back. could you wave your hand? thank you very much. welcome to this session of the texas >> welcome to this book festival. 15 minutesr guest, h. brand, and bill will be signing books read it is down the street. please patronize the book signing tens in the bookstore, as you know, and buy his book. >> this is the book. b
3:02 pm
"the man who saved the union." it will go to support texasit i libraries. and it is for a worthy cause.ind h.w. brand, bilbray on the, isn a professor of history at the c university of texas here in austin. man his focus has been on american history and politics and it num includes a number of tremendous books he has written of which this is the most recent. there are books and biographies of frank roosevelt, a biography about andrew jackson. the age of gold is about the american gold rush in the 1840sn the first american, benjamin
3:03 pm
franklin and together, thesethee books, i think, they comprise not haphazardly but very purposefully the history of thes united states through the lastrl 200 or so years two of them are finalists finalist for the pulitzer prize. youfi can see h.w. brand on tv all the time. bill grams.. history channel or turn on the tv, there he is. ldis book s -- i this book is, i'm going to holdo up it up against you can see it and recognize it. a it is a tremendous biography of ulysses-esque rant filled with stuff that i never knew and was delighted to find out. utry authoritative and readableo before we get to that, before we get to grant himself, i wanted to ask bill a more broad a question abouts biography.
3:04 pm
here at the book festival, there are a number of biographers. i have read several of thesehese books lately i have read robert caro's biography and all of cohen, these people are at the book festival, among others, i thinkh that david maraniss is here with his book about obama. all of these books, all of these approaches, the subject matter -- whether it is dead or alive, i am just curious, do you have o philosophy, having written manya biographies? what exactly a biography should be and what it should do? >> i would like to thank you all
3:05 pm
for coming out. i'm really proud that so many people arrive i am trained ashin a historian. i can look at biographies, the life and times of your subject m sometimes comprise your work. i tend to include more time than some other biographers do.e and in my experience and observation, biographers tend to come to their subjects from onei ionswor su directions. they are either historians like sometes nov are. e journalists. sometimes novelists find their way in. it but those who come from theen direction of history tend to fimakingn image from filmmaking. they tend to broaden the focus on their character.charr. so you see the character, but you also see more ofu the bkgro background. in the character is, at least in part, a vehicle for telling the story of the characters f time.
3:06 pm
journalists, and others who come from the on history direction, think they can have a tighter focus.he time. now, beyond that, we can get into the question of, what do you make a life and how do you reconstruct the lives of those people, sometimes they're still living, sometimes they're not. h one has a view of human nature, and i will confess that in somei of the books i have taken on, in really was concerned, whether i was qualified or not to writee about the person i was writing about. wholeof all, there is the how n you write can you write a bunch of pages about somebody that you never met.out someb about someone whose voice you never heard. you don't know exactly how tall they were.
3:07 pm
you do not know what impression they made when they walk into a room. you don't know some very basic stuff that a person who justf tt encountered ar ae p subject, fo5 ere oth and wife knew about. there are certain kinds of life experiences that we all share. a we were all children at onel sh time. you can imagine that little benjamin franklin is toddling around you can imagine what that might've been like. when i was writing about franklin, i realized that a large part of the story was s consisto consist of franklin growing old. because he becamet america's emissary to france during the american revolution at the age of 70. and i started writing about franklin when i was around 40i years old orbo so. i really wondered whether i wase going to be able to understando
3:08 pm
franklt was like to grow old. partly for this reason, i decided, and this has carried through in my other vote, i decideo te tell my story. i tried to relate the lives of mys, characters as much as possible through the perceptions, the words of people who saw them. people who knewperc them. kw my books tend to have more of eyewitness type stuff and some. if i others.ave if i have a choice between in mw writing a scene in my own words and writing a scene in the words of somebody there, whole i willn tend to go towards the person who is was there. i think that conveys a certain authenticity. i will say that it relieves the burden of providing thee authotu
3:09 pm
authority. because the question that anyona should have been reading a workt if iistory is how does the author know what he is telling me. and if i could make it very clear, it's not me that's really u this.this. the room look looked like this,s bein fra franklin seemed like this, to somebody who wasthis actually to there.actualth that is a roundabout answer to your question. >> well, let's get directly to ulysses s. grant. the book is called "the man who saved the union: ulysses grant in war and peace." i have two questions about this title. one is what happened to the initial in ulysses s. grant, the letter "s." [laughter] >> it's notke fair? >> >> no. going >> what are you going to deal? [laughter] >> the answer is that the "s" was an artifact. he wasn't born ulysses s. grant. he was born hiram ulyssees
3:10 pm
grant. i have sympathy for those who go by their middle name. his birth name was not ulysses s. grant.t know if e is a he began to sign things as ulysses s. grant. i'm not sure if there is a in memory that drew me to him, buti in the neighborhood i grew up g in, in portland, oregon, there was a public park, and the signe on the public park was ulysses s. grant for the longest time i thought this was a family-owned park. named for somebody that had been granted to the city. for some reason or another. that is part of the answer.inci and thewh people who designed td dustust jackets, i had a hard e convincing people to put hisy o
3:11 pm
entire name on it. so "the man who saved the union: ulysses grant in war and peace", that's a lot of words.t, and you also have to have spacer anr a photograph. i didn't want to pushd things. just one last thing, and that i ulysses grant rolls off the tongue. it really wasn't an ov gersight. it was by design. a more >> have another question about the title. it is called "the man who saved the union." i get that.he like you grant general whounionu turned aside the civil war, bus saving the union.vil the work of saving the union went on much beyond the civil war for him as president. f so he said that one could argue
3:12 pm
-- and is this correct? >> you're you're not supposed to say that with such a quizzical sound in your voice. you were supposed to say that i was convinced upon reading it but he did say the unit i guess it is incumbent upon the argue that. upon as i do in the book. first of all, there are many people who might even take issuw with grant saving the union during the civil war. didn't we can do that? well, yeah, he did. i'm not going tooi say that gra was the only person who saved te the union, union, but he was the commanding general of the army t that put lincoln's policies into effect. and he was the general whoand accepted the surrender of thee army of northern virginia andac robert lee lee that ended the s. war.the so if anybody won the war on the battlefield, if you could saythn that any one person dead, and o course, you cannot, but one of the things we do in history is we generalize. we simplify.ra because history and reality is
3:13 pm
too complicated to get our headh around this if we deal with it in its full complexity.grant s grant saved the union during the civil war. and i do contend that grantntend saved the union during reconstruction as well. one of the reasons i decided to write about grant was that i t wanted to write about someone who is central to the civil wari i also wanted to write about someone who was deeply involved reconstruction. d i have to ask pla how many of you are university of texas alum's? how many of you study history at the university of texas? you should all raise your hand because it is required by they state legislature.hand yoose who didn't raise your hand, you better go check your diplomacy that's valid. [laughter] the reason i mention this is that against my better judgment, and i am a late arrival, i onlyi arrived in 1981, but the two
3:14 pm
semester american history course is divided to 1865. it is logistically impossible ie these days. the decision to divide it at that point, i think it was made in about 1915. point w at which time there was a whole lot less of 1865 to the presentl therethere is now. the second problem is, and this is more conceptual. i it really does violence to the story of the civil war. thetory because the civil war is very important.e union fel the union felt in peace starting in the 1850s.he end of the session began at the end ofw
3:15 pm
1860 and there was a 4.5 year. in which reunion was split asunder. that was put back together onsie the battlefield. but since vietnam, we have h become are that you win wars, a least in large part, by winning the hearts and minds of those people that you are contesting against. and i can guarantee you that iny 1865, the hearts and minds of tt the south were not with then. union. one of the points that i make i the book is that the civil war was the easy part, or it least it was the straightforward parti war makes things very clear. in fact, one of the major t emotional themes in the book is how war did make things clear for b people like ulysses s.efo grant, who before the war simply could not get his act together in civilian life. civilian life is much more confusing. there were many more considerations that one had to
3:16 pm
take account of. there were all sorts of standards and assessments aboutl whether you were doing well and various influences on your lifea once the war began for ulysses s. grant, things got clear.ra he understood that this is whatl the objective was, and this isas how to get there. he discovered in himself something that he didn't haveet any idea, and no one else did either. he had a genius moment forthat t modern war. but the important point here is, as i say, war made everything straightforward. we've got our army, you have we b it y. we banded out as to who wins. ts grant was not a a constitutional lawyer. wa without godt sferior arguments as to whethee the session was legal. whether but he shared something with went in.ioe that was even if succession was
3:17 pm
unconstitutional, they both acknowledged the right of revolution. this was the right the american colonies exercised during the american w revolution. amerin but the deal of revolution, isn't it baseded on inalienable rights? life, liberty and the pursuit oh happiness and all thatap stuff. but you have to win. nobody can see this revolution. that is what the war was all about. but then the war ends. in the south has to bee reintegrated into the union.he . there are all of these unreconstructed confederates who still believe they had have the better part of the argument and that the white raceace sh should be supreme in theou south and they believe that abolition was imposed on itself. whereas during the civil war,duw they didn't have a vote, they didn't have a say in the national government. all of a sudden they do. sudden during war, the rules of
3:18 pm
democracy were suspended.demo hece tacy is based on majority rule. once the war ended, democracynds kick back kicked back in.ou the south has to be reintegrated politically.ated when grant was nominated for president in 1868, he was, firs of all, the nominee by acclamation of the republicanthn party. he did not lift a finger on hisf own behalf. he allowed himself to beif. nominated. and he allowed himself to be elected.e the one thing that he didn't do is give speeches, he wrote out he wroceptance of the nomination. the one line in that it caught l the attention of the country was less obvious. now, this was something that electrified the south, as well as the north. because during the period from 1865 until 1868, congress in washington and much of the south
3:19 pm
had been battlefield of a different congress was roaring against the executives. they wanted to impeach andrewti. johnson. another question is who will govern us out. with the republican regime that was imposed upon us out the south by union troops -- with a govern? or would the pre-majority? to the surprise of many south? southerners, grant became something of a sympathetic figure.sympat he washe the good union general and one who granted generous surrenders terms to generaled lease troops they had to get back to the south, which was starving as a result of the war. in no small part because of grant's strategy. the south was starving.
3:20 pm
he began treating them as fellow americans. when his own troops began toroop cheer upon the surrender, he told them to be quiet. he said these are our countrymen. m he became the sympathetic general.e unti sherman became the devil incarnate until the end of his day. you have another question?ng >> but i'm trying to insert myself in a conversation. [laughter] but i would really like to ask you to talk about grant is just a guy. as because he was the most unlikely political material to become president of the united statesaa and you know, you talk about hib knee knocking when he had to give a speech.ive how did it happen that this guy who is so non-demonstrative and not political at all, how did he
3:21 pm
become, and i believe he becamer a powerful and fuimportant united states? >> grant was the most unassuming major historical person that i have run across.e his modesty persisted until the very end. quite literally.d. i begin my story at the end ofyr grant's life wheny he is of composing his memoir.composinhir for a long time he resisted lon writing his memoirs and hesiste he thot after the fact, monday morningug quarterbacking stuff better left to other people. the officers on both sides began to revive the war and apologized for their mistakes and grand icing their successes.ant staye grant's data until the very end. he had been swindled by a gilded
3:22 pm
age equivalent of burning medoc and he was broke and he was going to leave his wife brokemae and so he wanted to make some money. he got connected with mark twain, who recognized that a hug grant memoir would be a huge bestseller, as indeed it was. but while he was writing this memoir, early on, he was dying of cancer. the nation watched within thishd race for his life. whether he would finish writing the story of his life before he finished his actual life. f and as he was in the final stages of writing a memoir and dying of cancer, he wrote some notes to himself. one of the notes that he writest this is grant at aghie of 65. he knows he's dying, and he has
3:23 pm
now been the commanding general, the only general to have the the rank that george washington held in the revolutionary war sincea. then. you might as well have been one of the most famous people on earth.h. e took the world to her after hewh left the white house and everywhere he went, crowds turned out to see this americant hero. h but he writes weeks before hee dies -- and he says that i never thought of acquiring rink in thi profession i was educated for.rn namely the military.ely th yet it came with two higher prefixes. i never had either ambition orer case where political life. yet i was twice president of the united states. ates one of the striking things to mr on writing the story washis y observing how he did and mostlyv did not changein personally, asp
3:24 pm
became this world historicals figure. when the civil war began, grant was living in the lena,is. illinois. one thing after another had feln for him. in sad failed as a farmer, he had failed and selling real urtate, he had failed sellingels insurance. he finally had to fall back ondo the long-standing offer from his father, who really thought that grant had very few gifts at all. at a and he went to work for histo younger brother in the family leather store. he was fully consigned -- excuse me, he was fully resigned to a life of mediocrity. worl the world never would've heard of ulysses grant, he was not onf who had any burning ambition. ambe had not been essentiallyrg
3:25 pm
handed the presidency, it never would've occurred to him to seek it.have occur he definitely did not have thart proverbial fire in the belly that the presidential candidateh these days were are required to have. despite the fact that by the war's end, he realized that he was pretty good at this general stuff. he was hepr never thought that thatf, eagerly qualified him to beim president. he answered that call the way he >>ways did of the military security. just a se >> there is one other thing i wanted to ask you. you teach american history andch a ah for a long time.
3:26 pm
those of us who know will know that he already knows everything for he sits down to write a boo because he taught for so long.ok but i am very curious, was there wondering surprise about grantr when you're putting thisyou weri together, something you didn't togeer? didn't expect it really came out?ay tre >> there wasn't really a giant surprise that there was an abiding question that drove me to write the book. and it's a question that i don't exactly have an answer to.. i have answers, as in plural, do it, it is a question that is broader than grant. you it is when you hear the t question, you realize how broad ass is. why is their war?. every society has war. i have never encountered in myr study of history or reading of anthropology encountered a society where war was not merely something that happened, but the
3:27 pm
really big deal in thed societ. there is something about humans that inclines us towards war.ars my question that i have beenwar. posing to my history classes fon years is why it is this so? it strikes me as pure gospel. sodon't know of any societies today ciwould say that war is a really good say war i if we all s agree that it's a great thing, and this question of why is there war at all would not require much of an answer. ask why is there sex?x, mos a lot of tpeople think it is aei good idea. [laughter] so you don't have to ask that question. but most people think that war is a bad thing.t so why does it happen so often? >> with my students, we workedo? our way through to basic answers to the question. it seems diametrically with ae poser, but it is not entirely on
3:28 pm
complementary. lemp one answer is that i presume bya most of us, most people in the united states, i can point out exception if you want to icar it. csp most people would say that warw is when things gosa wrong. therefore, if you want to explain why there there is war, you need to explain the very g things that can go wrong. things can go wrong because thermisumisunderstanding among nations. a if you look at the borun-up ton. world war i, they had theseated. h rtmatums went back and forth wad if somebody made a slightly different decision, it might have ended up differently. and then there are really bad terrorists. so then there was a megalomaniac, which was responsible for world war ii. this is a comforting explanation for world warbe ii. if we
3:29 pm
people think it is because of those bad guys, and if we watch out for them and keep their hands off the reins of power, then we will be okay. or if war is something because of misunderstanding, let's all get to know each other better, war..ere won't be so the other possibility, though, is that war is not whenh things go wrong, it's whenn this things go right. but there is something positively attractive about war. now, this might touch a part of our characters that we aren't particularly happy about. maybe we don't even want tont to acknowledge. but one of the reasons i wrote about grant is that he was one, william sherman was another. and robert ely on the confederate side.ator theynew good in the technical sense. they knew how to arrange i will battles. moral oua
3:30 pm
this is something he didn't know about in the until the thick of things. li or less so now, that we have satellites and aircraft that oversee everything. the hardest part is figuring out apoach ee battlefield was, and how they were going to approach each other. grant had a gift for that. i'm not sure where it came from. some people have a spatial imagination is better thanhan others. the other aspect, and i will call it the moral part, grant thd the ability to do something that the five commanders of union forces that preceded him did not have. he had the ability to give the t
3:31 pm
order to go into battle. now, that might sound like an that oversimplification, but georgesb mcclellan, the best-known of grant's predecessors, was asgoot good as grant was preparing fori battle. he was even more beloved of his troop then grant. but mcclellan didn't have thee. nerve. he didn't have the brutality to give the order for battle whenoe he knew that before the battlet ended, thousands of young men and women would be dead. now, when i was writing the book, but once it was exactly e surprised, but i was struck by this. because this trade in grant, i found it admirable and appalline together. admirable because i guess if there is a war, you need to havr somebody to be able to do, tha. but also appalling in that ito t requires us to do something weto
3:32 pm
are all chat at a very early age. something we must notgh, and that is to elevate and above the means.he the means are dirty and brutal and that includes the death of r people who didn't do anything to bring on this war. but if you believe in the endyo and you have that deal of character that grant hack, lincoln had it, too, although he wasn't on the battle route and he didn't have to give the ordev the nighte before. but if you have that, you can tr send the troops intooo battle, d your side will win. getting back to what i was saying earlier, for grant,ther h holding the unit together and after the emancipation proclamation, freeing the slaves,am this justified almost anything that was required to achieve it.eve it. one can say, well, that's at is tough calculation to make because how can you measurelc
3:33 pm
political unit against 600,000 lives, well, grant had a more practical take. that was he believed and lincoln fully believe, that if there are two nations in the middle of the north american continent, isan , first war t would not be the lat one. they said that the reason the united states had not been th driven by the wars that had afflicted europe for centuries was that there was a single a country. once it makes to countries in north america, they will go at it again and again, so this wars would not be the last. in the long run, even at 600,000 lives, this could be a bargain and human suffering. >> >> okay, questions from the audience. we will start over here. yes, sir?l st >> [inaudible question] >> is there a microphone he cana use?phon >> i'm sorry, sir.
3:34 pm
>> well, i don't know. >> ihe microphone working? >> yes, you. >> good deal. >> we are all talking here andwe we are wondering when you will get to the part about what we ge all believe down here in the southern part of the united states and how he was a drunk and a corrupt politician. you are contradicting much of that, it seemse like. did you come to different yo conclusions? >> i did. grant's reputation, he was arepn drunk and a butcher.d a his administration was one of the most corrupt americanion history. in historians reading presidente b until the beginning of the t century has put grant in the bottom two or three. right there with james buchanan. james buchanan and grant andor o
3:35 pm
maybe a couple of others. his reputation for drinking has been vastly exaggerated.king grant didn't have so much a drinking problem as he had a a problem holding his liquor.g hi [laughter] >> no, no. the distinction is not unimportant. because grant, in essence, sorte of dragged himself out of the army in the 1850s. but the reason he did that wasey because it, in the first place, he was stationed a thousand miles from his wife and fro h children, the younger of whom hr had never seen. he was stationed on the jury northwest coast of the united states, and coming from the northwest, i can tell you, ifes you are not from their, there is a strong tendency towards a depression and even suicideion, during the winter months. mont.un goes away on the firstci of october, and it might come out by the first of theby theirt following july. the last of the thing was, gran
3:36 pm
was in a drinking culture. army officers in those days were expected to drink like gentlemen, which meant that they were expected to drink a lot an ant's vo the effects. grant's boys would start toe slur. so would start to wobble when he had to drink. he was a sorryrr excuse for an officer in the sculpture. he resigned rather than be brought up on charges of dereliction for his drinking. reputation thation that grant acquired in the army. the army between the war withar mexico and the civil war was axd very small and very gossipy club. okay, so grant drinking stoutcla out of the army. no one thought anything of it began,when the civil war grant vaulted over dozens of
3:37 pm
officers, senior to himself. those who took the light in spreading the stories of grant's drinking. of i tracked down an account ofi tk grant's drinking to the extent that i could. exten then it discovered that on maybe two occasions during the civil war, he got drunk to the extenth that he went to bed and slept it off and woke up the next morning, fresh as a daisy. he never got drunk at a time when being drunk impaired hiseik ability to perform his responsibilities. he got drunk during the siege of vicksburg. they were waiting for vicksburg wa surrender. i never encountered a report that he got drunk when he was president.ent. so this is a story that stuck with him, in part because it is with a label that you can put on
3:38 pm
somebody, and it's pretty hard to disprove. the second one about him being a butcher, yes, this was something that even occurred to some of his fans during the civil war. because the civil war shockedil american sensibility. when the war began, no one in he north or south had any idea how big a conflict it wouldlict become. was g how many people would be listed on both sides and how many would die and be maimed. no one had any idea. the fact that grant was responsible for those casualties was a direct consequence of the fact that grant was the foremost gr the union generals who was willing to fight. this is why we can eventually promoted him. why he said that he will fight.nt'sa his approach to war with you wat to hit the enemy fast and hit them again and hit the enemy
3:39 pm
again. was grant was one who is going was going to take the fight to the take enemy. t it is unsurprising, and giventhn the fact that the forces he was enghting against was entrenched behind defensive lines, this meant that he was probably goins to suffer more casualties than the other side. but on a proportional basis, is casualties were actually lower than those of who lee. related to this was au can cons ooded grant realized that by the endbu game, by the virginia campaign of 18641865, he understood the fundamental arithmetic of the war.amental aretic every casualty that cost him a soldier could be replaced. every casualty that cost jennaea lee a soldier could not be replaced. we fight and fight and we are eventually out of fighters.ant' no oneof accused him of anything less than those most upright acm
3:40 pm
integrity. they did accuse him of being a o t too loyal to people who tooo advantage of their high office. there there's a great deal of exaggeration goes on.d it has been known as the age of corruption in american politics. the two great scandals of thef t era, the one that is in all thes test books and recited again and again, as the construction of the transcontinental railroad, in which members of congress whe were part of an inside game it was funneling money from the federal government that was channeled through theal gov construction company and into their pockets. hundreds of people were involved in millions of dollars werewere spent. the second big scandal was abu scandal involving a ring in new york. they reap hundreds of millions in the restructuring projects in new york.ojects in n when people talk about the corruption scandals in the gilded age, those are the few o
3:41 pm
that stand out, neither of which have anything to do with ulysse s. grant. gra administration did have scandals. there's no question about that. even his private secretary was involved in one scheme.ion abo that. were pretty small small-scale stuff compared to the big ones. theell essential problem that gt based was that the early histore of the grant administration were written by his enemies. saiag you might think that the victors write history. well, they did not write thery history of the civil. war theivl losers wrote the history of the lost southend southerners had tr say in grant's reputation. the other thing was that more than half of the republican party bailed on grant.and e there was the antislavery wing and the pro-business wing.wings these worked well enough together during the civil war, but after the civil war ended it slavery washe gone, it was what
3:42 pm
corporate orporate wing of the republican party that took overo the corporate wing wanted tok have nothing to do the three men in the south and nothing to doil with civil rights. grant was the last of the lincoln republicans. he was the last president and the onlyon president between t abraham lincoln and lyndonbetwea johnson who took civil rights for african-americans seriously. after grant left office, they were left to the tender mercy of the white majority in thet t soa very quickly, they were shovedck to the side of politics. >> okay. the don't ask a question if you don't want bill to answer it [applause] >> i do accept yes or no orpt y multiple-choice questions. >> we have only three minutes left, and as i am told, it is a serious deadline.ous deli let's see what kind of answer we can get out of bill. >> you said you read a lot of te
3:43 pm
american history and write a lot of it through biography. when i read your benjamin franklin biography, he sounded very modern, one of the first to be very modern. i saw that they are very different people. it was the first american in the sense that he or she hasthe se attitudes likens we do and any andngs running a biography like that between 1620 and 1770? >> i am not sure that it sure understand the question fully. he said he was the first american? >> who would you think, aftermea early colonization would have american attitudes that we colio recognize today?american att is americanit >> benjamin franklin, of course. there's a book about him calledk the first american. a [laughter] >> that was great, thank you. one more quick question. >> okay, i'm fascinated by the
3:44 pm
ci fas rejoining of saving the nation in peace time. would advise would grant it to our our political candidates for president now, what would they learn from grant? [laughter] >> was okay? grt? >> we are getting hooked over here. [applause] >> is a very apt question. it is a hard one to answer. in fact, i'm going to stay out of it because the times wereff entirely different. the challenges that confront every presidentti are almostffe. unique to those times. grant will never be considered one of the great presidents. because the deck was stacked against him. but if you look at abraham lincoln, what would you do today? i have no idea. what would theodore roosevelt or george washington do -- i don't know. times are so different. one of the things he learned studying presidential history ig that greatness is not by any
3:45 pm
means intrinsic and individuals. not intrconfluence of individuals and context. so the president that will lead us out of the mess that we are in today, he is probably thes president would not have been at all equipped to deal with the civil war reconstruction. so that mwaight be an unsatisfactory answer, but that's the best i've got. [applause] >> thank you, bill brand. >> this event took place at the 17th annual texas book festival in austin, texas. for more information about the festival, visit texas book >> we continue our look at the literary culture of montpelier, vermont. we hear from howard coffin about his book, which details several
3:46 pm
civil war accounts detailed in his new book. >> hello, i am howard coffin, i'm a seventh generation vermonter, and i had a least six ancestors who fought for the vermont regiment in the civil war. i have written three books on vermont and the civil war in the fourth one will be coming out in the spring called it comes from a famous speech by a great hero of the civil war, joshua changer -- joshua chamberlain. he said something abides and remains and you can feel her presence there. i know that vermont is the best place to see the america of the civil war era. and so i thought, i'm going to go to every one of our 251 towns
3:47 pm
and see what surviving civil war sites i can find. and i found drill fields and hospitals and underground railroad sites, halls were abolitionists spoke and i even found a field where a quaker minister heard a voice from the heavens that predicted the american civil war. these places are everywhere and it took me six years. the book is finally done and will be out in the spring. my new book has identified several sites in the state of vermont. i had one, against all the others, it would be vermont statehouse. when the civil war began in april of 1861, a week later, the governor of romanov called the legislature into an extra session, a special session.
3:48 pm
he had received a telegram from abraham lincoln inquiring what vermont might be expected to do. and he replied, vermont will do its full beauty. governor fairbanks address the legislature when he arrived here. he asked them to appropriate the astonishing sum of a half-million dollars from the state. the legislature deliberated for about a day in appropriated a full million dollars. that even made news in europe. the painting behind me is, first of all, he said by a man named william scott, who had been a drummer boy in the civil war and at age 16, he had dropped his drum and waded into a creek to rescue wounded vermonters. for that, he won the medal of
3:49 pm
honor. when the legislature decided that it needed a memorial here at the statehouse, naturally, it went to julian scott. he visited the battlefield, studied the terrain, not absolutely accurate. i have been there 50 times. and produced this wonderful painting that not only accurately predicts the battle and the terrain, repeated about 40 portraits of vermont soldiers who were in the battle into the painting. the military role of vermont in the civil war is an outsized one. i am absolutely convinced of that. based on a relatively we small population, vermont's performance was extraordinary. we broke the pickett's charge that gettysburg. we may have saved grant's army in the wilderness. i'm not sure that the union would have been victorious
3:50 pm
without the vermonters. they stopped the great surprise attack on october 9, 1864, and then they were key to the toner tapped it won the battle and gain control of the shenandoah valley for the rest of the civil war and made certain that abraham lincoln would be reelected. there are many incidents in the war where vermont is key. on april 2, 1865, after nine months of ulysses grant trying to break the federal lines of saint peter's, vermont and their brigade led the attack smashes through an robert lee surrendered. i came away with a deeper realization than ever the civil war affected everybody in this
3:51 pm
state. we sent 3:42:39 o'clock the battle. that is a tremendous number. one in nine of all our citizens. back here at home, the burdens that fell upon the women, the old old men and children, to run the farms, to run the factories, and then at night or on weekends, gather to make these were the soldiers and to cook things to put in boxes and sent by train to the front lines, they never stopped working back here. when the soldiers came home, wounded and sick, the burdens for caring for them along the same people. the home from performance of vermont in the civil war was extraordinary. i never knew the depths of all that. the civil war really begin for us in this building. a mile away on top of the a hill, the results first hand
3:52 pm
became very obvious to vermonters. there was a 600 bed hospital for the sick and wounded when they came home to be treated. we are on a hilltop in the city of montpelier on the campus of vermont college. this was once the montpelier fairgrounds for it when the civil war began, it became a drill fields. this is vermont regiment formed here, almost 1000 men. they drove about three weeks before they marched down the hill to the statehouse and then railroads and went off to war. more importantly, in 1862, frederick holbrook went to the federal government and said as governor, we think we can cure
3:53 pm
our sick sick and wounded soldiers better if he would send them to us in vermont where loved ones will heal them, and after a long bureaucratic fight, he got permission to open three hospitals in vermont. one of them stood right here. the center was in the middle of this field. these long wings awards extended from the center. bigotry about 600 soldiers here once. right or prior to run the hospital was a man named henry james from nearby waterbury who had been the town doctor and enlisted for the civil war with a great position for most of the writing major. after the battle of gettysburg, the war department sent him to gettysburg and put him in charge of all of the 25,000 wounded at gettysburg. he did a magnificent job and when that was finished, he came here to run this hospital. before he left gettysburg, he
3:54 pm
was afforded a great honor for his performance. he was allowed to sit near the president while lincoln gave the gettysburg address. here in this hospital during the worst stage of the civil war, the campaign of 1864, the trains were coming north to vermont filled with sick and wounded people. this hospital was running at full capacity. the cure rates were astonishingly good. the governor was right, the home cooking and the treatment worked on many, many vermonters lived on because this hospital was here than they did a wonderful job. it was only the one building that stands. after the war, the long wings of the building were chopped up and sold as houses. all around this neighborhood,
3:55 pm
there are houses that looked just about identical, and you can identify them as part of the old hospital. they are about 3500 civil war sites in my book. almost all of them have no historic marker to identify them. so you're going to need something to find these places. but when you get there, i think you will be amazed. we are in the hills of burlington, vermont, which is the town just south of montpelier. in a a farmhouse that has long since sold out. back here in the 1820s and 30s, two young men grew up, two brothers who would serve in the civil war. richard crandall, the older brother, went from here to
3:56 pm
dartmouth college and enlisted in the six vermont regiment and became a combat officer. his younger brother, john crandall, became a doctor and when the civil war began, he enlisted in the 16th of vermont regiment and that is one of the regiment that took discharge during gettysburg. after the battle, he took care of the vermont wounded on the battlefield. after the war, he goes west and joins george armstrong and the seventh calvary. he writes wonderful letters home about his adventures before little bit more. but his brother in the civil war, he is in the major fighting zones in the east. he survives and comes home in 1864. a friend of his from dartmouth goes to the top of one of the
3:57 pm
high mountains. they talk about the war and randall remarks that the battle of fredericksburg has a lifetime's worth of experience. he goes back toward, the vermont brigade is in the overland campaign. he survives the great battle at spotsylvania, and then it is cool and he survives the big attack, but on the seventh day of june, 1854, a sharpshooter from the long-distance kills him dead. his body is brought back here to burlington. we are here because this is a civil war site. this is where two young men grew up and who went off to war and
3:58 pm
played important roles in the war. we are here because i was able to identify this house is being their home, although it was a difficult search because the family did not own the home. they were renters or tenant farmers who were difficult to find land records for. finally, census records led me to this place. and i want people to know these men came from these remote places in vermont to go up to these places that suddenly became the most famous and all the world, gettysburg, spotsylvania, going from these little towns down these little roads, forming this mighty stream of vermont soldier that had an impact on the outcome of the civil war. this is the church where major crandall's funeral was held.
3:59 pm
a poem was read that he wrote this was about the war. when richard went back, he was in the campaign and he survived the big battle in spotsylvania. one of his diaries was written in the trenches. the evening is rainy, the first since we crossed the river. a band is playing the part of days, older memories have awakened. on the seventh of june, he fell to a sharpshooter's bullet. his body came home to the railroad station in montpelier, and then not belong to the church for the funeral.

Book TV
CSPAN November 3, 2012 3:00pm-4:00pm EDT

H.W. Brands Education. (2012) 2012 Texas Book Festival H.W. Brands, 'The Man Who Saved The Union Ulysses Grant in War and Peace.' New.

TOPIC FREQUENCY Us 8, Texas 7, United States 5, Spotsylvania 3, Benjamin Franklin 3, Montpelier 3, Gettysburg 3, Washington 3, James Buchanan 2, Abraham Lincoln 2, The Union 2, Vermont 2, Austin 2, Europe 2, New York 2, America 2, Virginia 2, Burlington 2, George Armstrong 1, Jennaea Lee 1
Network CSPAN
Duration 01:00:00
Scanned in San Francisco, CA, USA
Source Comcast Cable
Tuner Channel 91 (627 MHz)
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 704
Pixel height 480
Sponsor Internet Archive
Audio/Visual sound, color

disc Borrow a DVD of this show
info Stream Only
Uploaded by
TV Archive
on 11/3/2012